Mario Batali, superstar chef, cookbook author and television star not only appeared at the 2017 Greenwich Wine + Food Festival, but a cause near and dear to Batali’s heart—the Mario Batali Foundation (MBF)—was the Festival’s primary beneficiary. The organization aims to make sure all children are “well read, well fed and well cared for.” In our October issue, he talks about why he thinks giving back should be compulsory for those who can.

What inspired you to start the Mario Batali Foundation?
I’m completely fulfilled when I’m making a difference in someone else’s life, and especially a child’s, so founding MBF in 2008 made complete sense to me. When it comes to food and the food community, giving back is second nature. As a chef, that’s what you do—you nurture and serve. Yes, it’s important but really, it should be a requisite. Not only for celebrities, but for anyone fortunate to have enough to give back.

Do you have any highlights that stand out for you in terms of the foundation?
Visiting our Mario Batali Foundation funded Books for Kids libraries—and observing how proper resources can completely uplift a child’s spirit (and teachers and parents for that matter)—is perhaps my favorite part. I have the tradition of reading Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham at every library grand opening and being surrounded by smiling kids brings me immeasurable joy. That is why I do it.

What do you hope the future of your foundation is?
My hope is that MBF continues to help children become the absolute best they can be. The future of our generation depends on our children, who at the very least, need to be empowered, healthy and properly fueled.

What are you looking forward to about the Greenwich Food + Wine Festival?
I’m particularly excited about the recipe I’m demoing at the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival. I’ll keep it a surprise, but will hint that it’s a pasta dish I learned from my mother, Marilyn. It really focuses on the human touch, which I believe to be our greatest gift, and of course could not be a more harmonious tie-in to a conversation about philanthropy. Life is most delicious when I can meld the art of cooking with the act of helping others. Wheeeeeeee!

For more information about the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival, go to greenwichwineandfood.com

by Holly Parmelee